In 1971 Congress designated August 26th “Women’s Equality Day” at the behest of the late Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY). Women’s Equality Day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920 that granted women the right to vote.
I’m pondering how much has changed and how much has remains the same.
Winning the vote was a victory for women…but the victory celebration was delayed for many women of color who lived in states where voter suppression was in full effect. My Grandmother, who was born in Mississippi a few years before 1920, didn’t have the protected vote...and a right in name only is not a right.
Today, many women face a world where access is barred to all manner of things…fair housing, decent education, safe and healthy living conditions, safe and affordable healthcare, healthcare providers, and so on and so forth.
The movement for equality and justice is my inheritance…earned through the blood, sweat, and tears of millions who risked it all and suffered mightily.
This Women’s Equality Day I’m thinking of how I honor that sacrifice.
It really is like tending to an inheritance.
Through activism and outreach…so that women know what threats those opposed to justice have cooked up and how to combat them.
Through education and mentoring…so that lessons learned do not have to be re-learned, younger generations are empowered, and to gain inspiration through the amazing work of others.
And through the vote…oh, yes – the power of the vote, which women fought for and earned in 1920 and the women in my family were able to take advantage of in 1965.
Happy Women’s Equality Day…
…celebrate it but don’t forget to honor it.